LatinoAmericana Celebracíon honors Latino(a) student achievement

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The Latino Initiative celebrated its 10th anniversary, as well as Latino student success at UVU and Dixon Elementary during its LationoAmericana Celebracíon April 18 in the Grande Ballroom.

“It’s not only UVU students or Latino’s who get awarded, but also students from Dixon, which is a school that is usually [serves] low income families or kids that struggle to get good grades,” said Jesler Molina, administrative assistant in the education opportunity center. “[Dixon] encourages them to get good grades through our program, and that’s how we motivate them to come over and get their awards here. Their families come and it’s open to everyone in the community. … We get a lot of support together.”

A live mariachi band graced the stage and performed during dinner. The award ceremony was spread between traditional dances from countries like Mexico, Peru and Bolivia. The dancers were mesmerizing in their colorful clothes and flowing skirts.

Students from Dixon were given academic achievement awards and scholarships that will help them attend college in the future. Also, several UVU students were honored and received scholarships as well.

“We are here to not only celebrate the Latino culture, but also the academic achievements of our students,” said Yudi Lewis, program director of the Latino Initiative.

The initiative helped increase Latino student enrollment at UVU by 254 percent. There are currently 3,750 Latino students, or 10 percent of the student population, enrolled in UVU.

“We have the largest Latino student enrollment in the state of Utah as a four-year university,” said Lewis. “Not only have we increased the Latino student enrollment, we have increased the graduation headcount by 215 percent. In the last academic year, we’ve graduated 265 Latino students, mainly bachelor degrees, and this year, we are going to exceed that number.”

The initiative’s website states that “it aims to increase educational and career opportunities for Latino students and their families in our local communities.”

It has done just that by partnering with agencies like the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City. Javier Chagoya, the consul for Mexico, presented students with the IME Becas Award during Celebracíon. The consulate donated $71,000 to UVU for the grants that were given out. The celebration was a wonderful event because it introduced non-Latino(a) students to a vibrant culture.

It challenged them to experience what it’s like when you don’t speak the native language because most of the ceremony was conducted in Spanish. It’s an event that every UVU student should attend at least once.

Latino Americano Celebration (UVU Review/Julie Ostler)

Latino Americano Celebration (UVU Review/Julie Ostler)

Latino Americano Celebration (UVU Review/Julie Ostler)

Latino Americano Celebration (UVU Review/Julie Ostler)

Latino Americano Celebration (UVU Review/Julie Ostler)